The Seattle City Council on Monday is expected to approve a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a $600 million, privately financed redevelopment of KeyArena. It's a move that's hoped will send a strong signal to the National Hockey League to bring a team to Seattle.
According to a memo from Council Central Staff Director Kirstan Arestad to council members, the Oak View Group (OVG) has agreed to six changes to the MOU and have been signed off by the City Attorney’s Office. The council members had asked for the changes in a previous review of the MOU.
The MOU includes millions more for transportation and community improvement. That vote Monday comes a day after the MOU for the SODO arena by investor Chris Hansen expired.
The six changes are minor and include technical changes to the document:
- A clause on when rent payments begin
- That charitable contributions from OVG come in cash
- A scheduling agreement with the neighborhood, Pacific Northwest Ballet and the Seattle Opera
- Stronger language about protecting Pottery Northwest.
The city did not request a change to revenue from naming rights, which was an issue raised by Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez earlier this month.
There is widespread belief among many people at City Hall that approval on Monday will send a strong signal to the National Hockey League about Seattle’s interest in housing a team in a new building on the Seattle Center campus. The NHL however, has remained mum on the possibilities. Two different franchises, in Calgary and Arizona, have current arena issues and the league has an uneven amount of teams in the West and East.
OVG has targeted opening their new Arena at Seattle Center by 2020, and Councilmember Mike O’Brien has previously hinted the OVG timeline was all about housing a new franchise.
One of the current tenants at KeyArena, the WNBA’s Seattle Storm, also indicated it is pleased with the city’s work on the building. In a November 28 letter to Council President Bruce Harrell, the Storm’s Ginny Gilder wrote that the franchise is “excited at the prospect of not only remaining at the arena our franchise has called home for its entire existence, but also of playing in an upgraded arena whose technology is state of the art and whose roof keep out all the rain.”
She says the franchise wants to communicate “its full support of a YES vote on this matter.”
The KeyArena renovation process began in earnest last summer, advanced through multiple council meetings and a public request for proposals. It has lasted nearly 16 months. The SoDo project was pitched and approved back in 2012 in half that time.
The vote is scheduled for Monday at 2 p.m.